Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
In my life, Ash Wednesday and Lent have been very powerful
times of rededication and commitment. Coming from a traditional upbringing in the Episcopal Church, I can distinctly remember going to church on Ash Wednesday and wearing the ashes home. Back in those days, I would give up things like chocolate or one year, oh how I remember, I gave up Dr.Pepper. I can still remember how sweet it was on Easter morning to have that Dr.Pepper with my breakfast. Let me tell you - I was celebrating for sure!
But in my youth, I recognized the value of giving up, but didn't really use as anything more than self-denial. I've matured a bit in my celebration of Lent and am looking forward to sharing it with my family this year as a time of returning, renewing, and refreshing.
Since I'm rather new to the Reformed Church, I've been interested to learn how it handles Lent. Here is a great article from a Presbyterian pastor in New York about Lent in the PCA.
As he says, "The point of Lent is not to give up chocolate; it’s to give up sin!" Thus, "What we do physically has an effect on us spiritually—and we neglect this principle to our peril."
Some of my favorite books to pull out for Easter:
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Henri Nouwen's Show me the Way (Lenten Readings)
Here are some helpful links:
A script for explaining Lent to your children. (Here)
Here's a calendar with readings and practices (from the Book of Common Prayer (Episcopalian)
Here's some tips on fasting from the same website
CatholicMom has lots of ideas (lesson plans, links, etc)